Kate Baker and Suzanne Schalow
On a nondescript commercial drag of Belmont, MA, a town about 20 miles west of Boston best-known as the home of Mitt Romney when he was governor, rests the original location of what may become the first-ever nationwide craft-beer retail franchise. It was in this 1,500-square-foot spot in November 2010 that Kate Baker and Suzanne Schalow opened the first Craft Beer Cellar.
It features more than 1,100 beers from 370-plus breweries. Beers are shelved geographically rather than by style so as not to give, say, larger producers of IPAs more space than those who toe-tip in that stylistic pool. There is an entire bank of shelves dedicated solely to Belgians; others hold house selections from virtually every beer-producing nation on earth. Each staff member is a certified beer server and can talk beer ad infinitum. Craft Beer Cellar is, for craft beer geeks, a wondrous toy store. Baker and Schalow want to take the idea national. “Ideally, one in every state,” Schalow says during an interview at the Belmont original. As of August, there were 12 Craft Beer Cellar franchises in seven states, with six more planned, including in Los Angeles. The latest to open have been in Portland, ME, and Warwick, NY, near the New Jersey border.
The couple, who met working in the restaurant business and married in 2010, are undaunted by craft beer’s relatively small market share nationwide. It just means more potential customers for more potential franchises. “We need to be in places that need us,” Schalow said.
This profile appears in the November 2014 issue of All About Beer Magazine. Click here for a free trial of our next issue.